Anthropology & Biology send first NSF-IRES cohort to Kyoto University, Japan

In fall 2019, the Anthropology Department was fortunate to receive a three-year NSF-IRES grant (PIs Tosi, Raghanti, Meindl, Lovejoy) to fund 18 summer internships in Japan for KSU students. These are collaborative projects in primate biology under the direction of colleagues at Kyoto University; the spectrum of studies includes neuroscience, genetics, skeletal anatomy, behavior and cognition. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic froze this program for summers 2020-22 while Japan was largely closed to foreigners.

The Japanese government recently lifted all travel restrictions, and we sent our first NSF-IRES cohort to Japan in June. This year’s group includes four students. Samantha Magrini (PhD candidate, Biomedical Sciences) and Scott McKinny (undergraduate, Anthropology) are researching platycnemia in the Jomon skeletal collections housed at Kyoto University. They are studying under Dr. Masato Nakatsukasa, an expert in primate postcranial morphology. Dakota Smallridge (PhD candidate, Biomedical Sciences) is investigating auditory steady-state responses (ASSRs) in marmosets under the tutelage of Dr. Naho Konoike, a specialist in brain mechanisms controlling emotion and mood. Hannah Maycon (MA candidate, Anthropology) is researching whether the caudate and putamen receive input from different cortical and subcortical areas of the brain. She is working in the lab group of Dr. Kenichi Inoue, an authority in both cortico-cerebellar and cortico-basal ganglia loop circuits.

  • Naho and Dakota
    Dr. Naho Konoike and Dakota Smallridge
  • Inoue Lab
    Dr. Kenichi Inoue, Dr. Hidetoshi Amita, Hannah Maycon, and Yan Gaoge
  • Nakatsukasa and students
    Scott McKinny, Samantha Magrini, and Dr. Masato Nakatsukasa

Before departure, the students joined a spring seminar on Japanese society and culture led by Dr. Tosi. They also took Elementary Japanese I, either in-person at Kent State or through the Transparent Language Program online. In Japan, the students will continue language studies via weekly online tutorials with HH JapaNeeds, and cultural studies via classroom discussions with Dr. Igor de Almeida (Institute for the Future of Human Society, Kyoto University) and online discussions facilitated by Dr. Susumu Tomiya (Center for International Collaboration and Advanced Studies in Primatology, Kyoto University).

The IRES group arrived in Japan on a Friday night. Dr. Tosi arranged icebreaker dinners for the students and their hosts in the first weekend. The students also enjoyed some of the local sights, such as visiting a castle in Inuyama and ancient shrines in Kyoto. Then, fighting through jetlag, they began their internships early Monday morning. The students will report on their scientific progress and cultural excursions in weekly news posts uploaded to the Anthropology Department website.

As the IRES students began their internships, Dr. Tosi met with the many Kyoto University faculty that have supported collaborations with Kent State over the years. His first meeting was with Dr. Katsuki Nakamura, the Director of the newly formed Center for the Evolutionary Origins of Human Behavior (EHUB) and an expert in primate cognitive neuroscience. By chance, the research partnership between Kent State University and Kyoto University began with Dr. Nakamura in 2015 when he welcomed the first KSU summer intern, Emily Munger, to his laboratory. As director, he has kindly renewed the MOU (2022-2027) for collaborations in primate biology with Kent State. He and Dr. Tosi discussed both current research projects and tentative plans for the NSF-IRES 2024 cohort, and then met the former (now retired) director, Dr. Hirohisa Hirai, for dinner.

Dr. Tosi met briefly with several other professors to thank them for supporting the partnership with Kent State. We are fortunate to have many kind colleagues: Dr. Hiroo Imai, Dr. Masanori Imamura, Dr. Ikuma Adachi, Dr. Takeshi Nishimura, Dr. Eishi Hirasaki, Dr. Yuko Hattori, Dr. Takao Oishii, Dr. Munehiro Okamoto, Dr. Takako Miyabe, Dr. Michael Huffman, Dr. Hiroyuki Tanaka, Dr. Andrew MacIntosh, Dr. Susumu Tomiya, Dr. Goro Hanya, Dr. Hidetoshi Amita, and Dr. Yukako Katsura. Dr. Tosi also stopped by the nearby Japan Monkey Centre and thanked Dr. Misato Hayashi and Dr. Yuta Shintaku for their continued support.

The KSU Anthropology and Biology faculty are very grateful to our colleagues in Japan for their partnership in studies of primate biology and evolution.

These research collaborations were launched by, and continue to be supported by, grants from both the US National Science Foundation (NSF) (Award #1853937) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

  • NSF logo
  • JSPS logo 285
POSTED: Friday, July 28, 2023 10:57 PM
Updated: Friday, August 4, 2023 02:03 PM